Sharjah players attend a training session ahead of their President’s cup semi-final match against Ajman.
Four teams – Sharjah, Ajman, Al Wasl, and Al Ain – will battle it out to take a one step forward towards the final of the President’s Cup when they meet in the first leg of the semi-finals of the prestigious tournament on Wednesday.
Sharjah will take on Ajman at Sharjah Stadium while Al Ain will visit Al Wasl at the Zabeel Stadium for 10pm kick-off. None of the four teams are coming into matches on the back of a win.
Ajman, Sharjah and Al Ain were held to a draw in their respective matches at the Pro League while Al Wasl will look to bounce back from the defeat against Al Jazira in their last game.
Sharjah will look capitalize on the home advantage against Ajman and to live up to the reputation of the defending champions. Sharjah are also favourites against Ajman if going by their positions in the standings and current form.
They are also in contention for the league title despite being on the fifth place. The completion is so fierce that the top five teams separated by only seven points. Sharjah coach Cosmin Olroiu predicted a tough and said they are wary of Ajman.
“We are expecting a tough game against Ajman who are a very strong tea. They have some good players and can stun any team on a given day,” said Oloriu.
“But we are prepared well and ready for any challenge. We will like to take the advantage by winning the first leg. We are confident and all the palyers are raring to go,” he added.
“We have a very strong team, studded with distinguished player. I have trust in my players that they will play like defending champions. We hope to live up to our billing of being the defending champions,” he stressed.
Al Ain, who are second in the standings, rallied to share spoils with leaders Shabab Al Ahli to keep their title hopes alive in the league. Al Ain are brimming with the confidence as they are one of the top contenders in the league and have been in great form.
On the other hand, Al Wasl are also not much behind and they also stand an outside chance of winning the league title. Al Wasl are just one-point a drift of Al Ain and are sitting two spot behind their opponents at fourth.
The semi-finals of the President’s Cup promises to be a mouth-watering clash as two of the five top teams will be against each other, trying to remain in hunt for trophy this season.
Al Ain coach Serhiy Rebrov said that they are prepared for the Al Wasl challenge and working to overcome the shortcomings by watching the videos and analyzing the performances of the players.
“Everyone commits mistakes, but the most important is to fix them and avoid them in the following matches, and this is what we are actually doing,” said the coach of Al Ain.
Rebrov stressed that it is not easy to play a match every three days and that what is important is the recovery programs, given that the international players rejoined the team after playing for the UAE national team. He also explained that the team would play two matches against Al Wasl, and the first would be an away match.
“This is why we should exhibit a strong desire and play seriously to win the match. It is a different competition than the league, and it is important for us and the fans,” he said.
“I still remember our match against Al Wasl last season in the same competition when the result was a 3-3 draw, then Al Wasl scored, and we lost the match to them 4-3. It was not an easy mission at that time,” he added.
Regarding the players expected to miss the next match, he said: “We would evaluate the players’ level of readiness, and we still have few hours to do so. Certain players suffered minor injuries but not serious ones. All the players are in form and ready for the next match,” he apprised.
Commenting on the significant support shown by Al Wasl fans to their team, especially when their team plays at home, he said: “I believe Al Ain fans are the best and biggest in terms of number. They are always behind the team at home and away matches. They are the most influential fans.”
“We are always feel happy to see our fans in the stadium stands, and players feel their support and become more motivated when they come to matches,” he concluded.
The two return matches will be played on the fourteenth of this month, when Al Wasl will move to Hazaa Bin Zayed Stadium to face Al Ain, and Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium will host the meeting between Ajman and Sharjah.